Burke Proposes Ban on Conversion Therapy

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On Monday, Erie County Legislator Pat Burke (LD-7) introduced a proposed ban on conversion therapy. “Conversion therapy is an abusive practice that attempts to change the sexual orientation of a minor from homosexual to heterosexual it is sick and should be against the law,” Burke said. 

Being gay isn’t a disease in need of a cure, and “conversion therapy” is little more than pseudoscientific torture. It’s been shown instead, “to lead to mental illness, drug use, homelessness, self-harm and suicide — especially in kids and teens.” Among others, the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers have condemned conversion therapy as especially harmful to minors. 

In New York, agencies have taken administrative action to protect LGBTQ youth by barring insurance coverage for conversion therapy, and making it unlawful for state-licensed mental health providers to provide conversion therapy to minors. The practice itself is not illegal, however. 

According to Snopes, Vice President-elect Mike Pence once pledged to seek federal funding for conversion therapy while in Congress. 

The allegation dates back to 2000, when Pence was running for Congress. His campaign web site at the time touted his call to add a stipulation to the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, a 1990 law providing funding for HIV/AIDS treatment for patients living with the disease lacking either the income or the necessary insurance to pay for it on their own:

“Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Although he didn’t say so outright, the position has been widely interpreted as signaling Pence’s support for “gay conversion” therapy, which seeks to “cure” patients of being attracted to members of the same sex.

“Conversion therapy” involves, among other things, electrocuting kids to train their behavior, like dogs, to fear and avoid homosexual thoughts and behavior. As recently as this year, the Republican Party platform contained this

We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.

Legislator Burke’s proposed law is, therefore, named the 

Prevention of
Emotional
Neglect and
Childhood
Endangerment.

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